2 Minutes with Rowan D.H. Barrett
June 2, 2011
Scientists could enhance their ability to predict various species' risk of extinction, thanks to research on the genetic basis of adaptation. Rowan Barrett, winner of NSERCís 2010 Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize, is combining field studies with genomics to uncover the genes that make certain members of species better able to adapt to climate change or other factors in their environment.
|Rowan D.H. Barrett||
I'm an evolutionary biologist and my research is motivated by a desire to understand how organisms adapt to their environments and in particular the genetic basis of this process. If fossil fuel emissions continue to match current trends, up to 40 percent of the planet will experience novel climate conditions by the turn of the century. Our ability to understand the biological consequences of these and other human-induced changes will be greatly improved by taking an interdisciplinary approach, integrating methods and knowledge from ecology, evolution and genomics.† It's now becoming possible to directly test the genetic mechanisms that underlie evolutionary responses in relevant ecological scenarios. Ongoing genomic advances will only serve to increase the genetic resolution of these studies and the precision of their predictive models which makes this a really exciting time to be doing ecological research.
Collectively, I think that the projects encompassed by this research program will contribute to a much more comprehensive understanding of the process of adaptation which will be invaluable for helping to inform environmental policy and management decisions about the best ways to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.